Tuesday 22 October 2019

Richard Dunne: 'Manchester United need to abandon media circus and regain their winning culture'

Read Richard Dunne every week in The Herald

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Richard Dunne

Richard Dunne

Not one player at Manchester United would get into the team at Manchester City or Liverpool right now, and that says so much about how low United have fallen as a club and as a team.

The whole ethos at United has changed from a culture of winning to something else, to a media circus.

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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was the right man for the job but they jumped too soon in giving him the long-term contract. He was doing well as a temporary coach but they should have left him at that.

I think he will get the right people in over the summer and potentially he could turn that club around. But the worry is the CEO. He has a history of failed transfer windows and he doesn’t seem to have any strategy for where the club want to go long term.

If they get Solskjaer, someone who understands what it takes to build a team, rather than just trying to get names in and spend money. If they give that person control they could sign the four or five players that they need to get them to have a more consistent season over four or five years.

Look at what City have done. They have had a plan for four or five years. Txiki Begiristain was in situ three years before Guardiola came in. They knew Pep was coming in so they had already started looking at players who would fit into his system.

It was more fluid and organised in the way they did it but with United, it’s hit and miss. They just throw money at it and in Woodward, they don’t have someone with the foresight that City have. So United need someone with a plan and that’s not just for next season, it’s for the next five.

They need players who are not just big names but are consistent, someone like Ivan Rakitic who has been performing at a top level for a number of years, a player they can rely on to build for the future. Once it’s always short-term, it will never work for United.

They need someone who will be in control but I don’t agree with the theory that it has to be someone like Rio Ferdinand or Darren Fletcher, someone who has been at the club. United need a person who has done that job before.

They are way behind the top two in the Premier League at the moment – miles away – and I don’t see how you can close a 30-odd points gap over the course of one summer. They have to aim to improve on this season and that means pushing for fourth place, but also try and win the FA Cup or League Cup, get back that winning mentality.

I look at so many players in that squad and think: ‘How has he got to play for Manchester United?’ The United I grew up watching, and then played against, had so many great players. This current crop wouldn’t get into the reserve team at United from those days. And now those players are the leaders.

So they need to get back a winning culture. I feel Solskjaer has the ability to do that but he needs to get the backing of the club – he can’t be forced into buying players who are marketable or have millions of  Instagram followers. He needs to build a team around players he can trust week in, week out.

If you look at Paul Pogba on YouTube, you’d think he was the best player in the world. He is nowhere near that.

Then, if you look at Man City, you don’t hear about their players or see them on social media. Same with Liverpool – their players are hardly ever on social media. You see them celebrating as they are winning trophies or getting to finals.

You should produce on the pitch before you think about building a profile or getting a deal to sell shirts or cars.

United need to get players out and if they can get any offers for the big names, they should take it and let them go. Apart from David de Gea, there is no one you could say would be guaranteed to improve for next season. It’s not like they are building from a base where they have 10 top players and just need to strengthen, they need a whole team.

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